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The Quarterly JoBlo.com Box-Office report! (Q1 2012)

Apr. 2, 2012by: Dave Davis

Hey, how's business?

Well, since we're talking about the box office, the answer is: so far, so good! A quarter of the way through the year, the movie biz is not just ahead of the game compared to Q1 2011, but has already knocked down a few records!

THE WINNERS

1. THE HUNGER GAMES - $251M
2. THE LORAX - $189M
3. SAFE HOUSE - $123.9M
4. THE VOW - $123.5M
5. JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND - $98.5
6. 21 JUMP STREET - $93M
7. ACT OF VALOR - $67.7M
8. CONTRABAND - $66.5M
9. JOHN CARTER - $66.2M
10. CHRONICLE - $63.6M

(estimates as of 4/1/12)

While most of the movies on the list had to build up steam over their release, the biggest money-maker of 2012 so far managed to hit its big figures in just two weekends in theaters. Thanks to the popularity of the novels, most people expected THE HUNGER GAMES to bake plenty of bread, but Katniss and company also smashed a few records (biggest March opening, biggest midnight screening haul) while they were at it.

While obviously much heavier on grim action-drama than TWILIGHT's sparkly vampires clashing with dodgy CG wolves, THE HUNGER GAMES initially (and very likely long-run) brought in bigger and more mainstream crowds than any entry in the monster-melodrama franchise, which (whether appropriate or not) has been regarded as a Katniss competitor due to their bestselling young-adult book origins. Lionsgate must be ecstatic that they spent their dough wisely, especially after non-starters like THE SPIRIT, ABDUCTION, CONAN THE BARBARIAN, etc.

Dr. Seuss' THE LORAX has been a savior of box office as well as Truffula trees, now scampering toward $200M. The candy-colored family flick (from the makers of DESPICABLE ME and HOP) made back its reasonable $70M budget in just a weekend, but of all things Seuss, the orange critter still has a longer path to travel before besting THE GRINCH's $260M total.

Channing Tatum kicked off 2012 like a boss with his romantic drama THE VOW pulling heartstrings and picking pockets, followed just a few weeks later by the well-received TV remake 21 JUMP STREET, whose positive word-of-mouth should swiftly put the comedy into nine digits.

THE VOW has been duking it out with the action-thriller SAFE HOUSE ever since they opened on the same weekend, and at the moment Channing lost the edge to Denzel. The success of the R-rated SAFE HOUSE certainly makes a better argument to justify Denzel Washington's $20M paycheck than his last few movies (UNSTOPPABLE, THE BOOK OF ELI, TAKING OF PELHAM 1 2 3), none of which crossed the $100M mark -- a feat that only the actor's AMERICAN GANGSTER and REMEMBER THE TITANS have ever managed to do.

The Rock stepped in for Brendan Fraser on the sorta-sequel JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND, and that substantial presence may have been what helped the flick close in on $100M (which means that Josh Hutcherson also has two of the year's biggest moneymakers on his resume). Dwayne's great guns are presumably what holds global appeal -- the movie has cracked $200M more internationally.

Several other movies on the list didn't necessarily post huge numbers, but were still sharp investments based on their budgets -- the Navy SEALs actioner ACT OF VALOR and the superpowered found-footage CHRONICLE both cost $12M, and Mark Wahlberg's new shoot-em-up CONTRABAND cost $25M. And while they didn't inch into the Top 10, the same can be said of several other 2012 releases: Liam Neeson's survival tale THE GREY, the R-rated party flick PROJECT X, the Daniel Radcliffe spooker THE WOMAN IN BLACK and the exorcism cheapie THE DEVIL INSIDE all crossed $50M for moderate cost (although that last one broke a January record but also managed a rare "F" Cinemascore from some angry audiences).

THE WHIFFERS

JOHN CARTER may have managed to get a spot on the Top 10, but relative to its cost (at least $250M, plus over $100M for distribution and advertising), the movie is generally regarded as a fiasco that will make a considerable dent in Disney's bottom line this year. Oddly, the audiences that did take the trip to Mars with Taylor Kitsch seemed to enjoy it, but the consensus appears to be that botched marketing was one of the main culprits in the film's limp performance.

Nic Cage's fire-skulled cyclist hit the highway again for GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE, but even with crazy CRANK craftsmen Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor behind the cameras, the movie sputtered and stalled at $50M (less than half the original's domestic total). Sony pushed the flamethrowing hellbiker into production to avoid hitting a deadline that would see the character rights revert back to Marvel (which is why FANTASTIC FOUR and DAREDEVIL reboots are also on the way), but perhaps that's where Johnny Blaze really belongs anyway...

If you were hoping to see the original STAR WARS trilogy on the big screen in post-converted 3D, you'll probably just have to watch the Blu-Rays at home and try to imagine the TIE fighters and lightsabers zooming and poking out of your TV. Even with putting Darth Maul (arguably the coolest thing about the prequels) in the center of the marketing campaign, the 3D reissue of STAR WARS: EPISODE I - THE PHANTOM MENACE only brought in around $43M. So because of George Lucas' insistence on starting with the Adventures of BoyVader, you'll likely never get to see Luke's lopped-off hand flying out of the theater screen.

Speaking of His Beardness, the Lucas-produced WWII movie RED TAILS somehow overcame a lack of buzz and a critical hammering to get some moderate audience notice, although the tale of Tuskegee Airmen ultimately made a soft landing below $50M (well shy of its production budget), prompting the latest threats/promises of retirement from the frustrated/clueless billionaire filmmaker.

And when it comes to 3D re-releases, Disney was undoubtedly hoping that BEAUTY AND THE BEAST would hit the heights of last year's extra-dimensionalized THE LION KING, but Belle barely got by with half of Simba's total, ending up with $47M.

Kate Beckinsale came back to deal with her hairy adversaries in UNDERWORLD AWAKENING, but the sequel turned to ash when it hit $62M. Still, gun-wielding bloodsuckers clearly hold international appeal, as Selene's return made almost $100M overseas. On the topic of asskicking ladies, audiences clearly didn't know what to make of Steven Soderbergh's action-espionage attempt HAYWIRE (after a long-delayed release), which brought MMA fighter Gina Carano out of the octagon and onto screens but couldn't even kick up $19M.

After a decade in the works, countless rewrites and dozens of actors approached, Fox finally convinced Chris Pine and Tom Hardy to literally battle for the affections of Reese Witherspoon in THIS MEANS WAR. But the McG-directed action-romcom couldn't catch any of Pine's STAR TREK afterburn or Hardy's THE DARK KNIGHT RISES heat, and the pricey project shot blanks with a $53M total as Seth Rogen, Colin Farrell, Bradley Cooper and several other dudes breathed a collective sigh of relief that they passed on it.

Elsewhere, Tyler Perry proves that audiences appreciate him more when he's in Madea drag (GOOD DEEDS - $34M), Katherine Heigl's leading lady status continues to mystify us (ONE FOR THE MONEY - $26M), Eddie Murphy's triumphant return is still pending (A THOUSAND WORDS - $16.5M), and Sam Worthington demonstrates that his presence could really use dazzling special effects surrounding him (MAN ON A LEDGE - $18M).

KEEP UP WITH THE WEEKLY BOX OFFICE REPORT HERE!

Source: Box Office Mojo

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8:46AM on 04/02/2012
This means war was rated PG13, not R.

Speaking of ratings, I see just as many R rated movies in the top 10 as PG13. And there are a lot of PG13 movies under the "Whiffers" section. From what the genius studio execs say, PG13 movies bring out more people than R rated movies. What gives, studio execs????????
This means war was rated PG13, not R.

Speaking of ratings, I see just as many R rated movies in the top 10 as PG13. And there are a lot of PG13 movies under the "Whiffers" section. From what the genius studio execs say, PG13 movies bring out more people than R rated movies. What gives, studio execs????????
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